How Does Beer Affect Your Teeth?
Updated August 17, 2016
Mmmm…. A nice, cold crisp beer in the summertime to quench your thirst and keep you cool from the hot, sweltering sun. St Patrick’s Day is another event where we like to get together with friends and drink beer. St Patrick's Day has come and gone once more, which of course means lots of beer was consumed. For the majority of those celebrating around the world, it's likely that the health of their teeth was one of the last things on their mind. But for those that are concerned with keeping that pearly white smile, how does all of that beer affect your teeth?
Green Beer, Anyone?
One way bars like to mark the occasion is with cheap beer dyed green with food coloring. It may seem like the perfect way to celebrate St. Pat's, but the novelty beer is a bad idea.
Just a few mouthfuls of the stuff can turn your teeth a ghastly shade of green. It’s not permanent, but you can count on looking like you’ve eaten algae for breakfast for the rest of the day.
If you drink a few too many of the green beers, they can cause your teeth to turn a darker shade of green. Stains such as green coloring, red wine, and coffee can cause your beautiful and bright smile to become a dingy and dull color. If this happens to you, you may want to schedule a visit with your dentist. He or she can discuss strategies with you on how to minimize staining your pearly white teeth but still enjoy your favorite beverages.
The Problem with Stouts
For those that like their stouts, these darker beers contain roasted malts and barley that have a tendency to stain the teeth. These beers aren’t only strong in flavor, but also have a concentrated, dark color which rubs off on teeth causing them to take on a shade of grey, blue or yellow over time. Stout beers are often brewed with dark berries and plums for flavor which are also packed full of natural staining agents.
If you regularly enjoy dark beers, your teeth could show signs of staining over time. Stained teeth gives the appearance of age and poor oral hygiene. Even if you brush and floss regularly or undergo teeth whitening treatments, the staining effect can still be strong enough to darken the shade of your teeth.
You can discuss a whitening program with your dentist if you do drink a lot of dark, stout beers. Usually, your dentist will fit you with mouth images that he or she makes by taking an imprint of your teeth on a recent visit. He or she will then make a mold that you can fit over your teeth after applying a whitening gel into the mold. You wear this to bed or other times that are convenient for you per your dentist’s recommendations. After a few short weeks, your dingy teeth will be back to their bright white color!
Acids in Beer
So how do you combat all the acid from a good beer? One way is to eat foods that will neutralize the acidic beer and food you just ate such as bananas, ginger, and leafy greens and veggies. These will bring the low levels up to a higher level that is good for both your stomach and your teeth.
Through a process known as demineralization, your tooth enamel can be worn away by the acidity of beers and other soft drinks. Drinks with a pH of 5.5 are acidic enough to start the process and with craft beers having a pH in the range of 5.4-5.8, you can be sure to have some erosion occurring.
Sour tasting beers such as the Belgian range of lambics, gueuze and Flanders red ales are known for lying at the low (acidic) end of the pH scale. Regular drinking of sour beers are much more harmful to dental health, as they can have a pH as low as 3.2–3.3.
For anyone that suffers from very severe hangovers the morning after, you could be giving your teeth enamel a double thrashing: stomach acid levels hover around the pH 2.0 mark.
Is Beer Good for You?
Surprisingly, moderated consumption isn't as bad as many think! Drinking beer can aid in the digestion of food by releasing more gastric acid from stomach cells to assist in digestion as well as controlling the growth of bacteria in your belly. It can even decrease your bad cholesterol levels as well as increase your good cholesterol just by using moderate consumption of the beverage. Along with helping the heart stay healthy from heart disease, beer can assist the kidneys with a decrease in kidney stones. There is a 40% decrease in kidney stones among beer drinkers due to the hydration of the beer and the flushing of the kidneys.
It’s not all gloom and doom when it comes to your favorite drink. Craft beers that are predominantly made from barley and hops contain high levels of silicon and calcium, both of which are good for strong bones, teeth, nails and hair. Hops have also been shown to have antibacterial properties and deter development of microorganisms in the mouth. There is also such a thing as good acids, known as tannins, which have similar properties to fluoride found in toothpaste and help to prevent bacteria attaching to teeth.
So, What’s the Verdict?
Keep on drinking beer in moderation! Even though beer has some adverse effects such as staining your teeth, spiking your acidic levels, and promoting a decrease in testosterone there is no reason to stop drinking your favorite beverage as long as you don't go crazy and get wasted every day.
Ultimately, the same rule applies as with everything in life: all things in moderation. Just because beer can stain your teeth or wear away tooth enamel doesn’t mean you have to give it up for good. If you consume a sensible amount of beer and also take good care of your teeth with brushing, flossing and routine trips to your dentist, then you have nothing to worry about.